Clean Eatin’

This week’s challenge was two-fold and while I was not exactly looking forward to it before, I’m very glad I did it now that it’s over.

Challenge #16:

Wake up every morning and say something positive about yourself. Spend the week eating like Jen!” – from Jen Jura


As mentioned before, Jen is my personal trainer turned friend that I’ve been working with for years. She’s been trying to get me to read this book, The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, for as long as I can remember and take on the lessons and teachings it delivers. I have downloaded the audio book and am listening to it, bit by bit. This chick’s voice is relatively (read as incredibly) annoying so I might just buy the actual book.

This involves eating clean foods, nothing processed and mostly vegetarian. Let’s get one thing straight. I like meat. Like could be a full on carnivore for the rest of my life and be completely content. I am not an herbivore. If I was meant to consume only plants, evolution wouldn’t have given me these delightful teeth intended for chewing. That being said, I accepted the challenge as I had no other option.

The first portion of this challenge was to say something positive about myself at the start of every day. I gotta tell ya, starting your day with daily affirmations or positive thoughts, alongside the expressions of gratitude I’ve carried over from The Secret, make for a fantastic mood in the morning, regardless of when you wake up.

This video circulated around the internet a few years ago and I immediately thought of it when I was beginning this challenge. Now, I was not exactly standing on my bathroom counter singing about all of the wonderful things about myself to my reflection like Jessica does, but you get the gist. Take a look:

I strongly encourage you to give this a try. I am fortunate to have many people in my life that constantly remind me of how “awesome” I am and how much I am capable of, but sometimes fail to see these same things in myself. I needed this especially this week as I was waiting to hear a response to a very exciting job interview. After a few days of the phone not ringing I got a little down and this positive thinking helped me turn things around. Whether it was about how much I like my eyes or my intelligence or my hair or my laugh or my kindness and thoughtfulness or my sense of humor, it tuned me in and made me think about the good things as opposed to the fact that 29 year old Katie does not look the same as 23 year old Katie.  C’est la vie…

That being said, I can confidently say that 29 year old Katie is way more awesome than 23 year old Katie.

Ok. Onto the food. So Jen and I went to Whole Foods to get the ingredients needed for the menu that she had put together. I also purchased a Vitamix as most of the items I would be eating can be quickly made in this magical high speed blender!

Jen picking out assorted organic produce

Jen picking out assorted organic produce

I had several options to choose from to hold me over for the next 7 days.  I thought I’d provide the recipes in case any of you want to try them yourselves!!

Green Drink:

  • 1 handful power greens
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • 1 handful parsley
  • ( I added a squeeze of local organic honey, don’t get mad Jen. It fights allergens.)
Green Drink

Green Drink

Blueberry Smoothie:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop Vega One vegan protein powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1-2 cups 365 Vanilla Almond Milk

Hemp Seed “Cereal“:

  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp Chia seeds
  • 1/4 Goji Berries
  • 365 Vanilla Almond Milk to your heart’s content
Hemp Seed Cereal

Hemp Seed Cereal


  • 1 head of butterhead bib lettuce
  • 1/4 Red Beet
  • 1/4 Yellow Beet
  • 2 radishes
  • 1 avacado
  • 1 tomato
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


Equipped with all I needed to get me through the next 4 days I went home, Jen and I cleaned my veggies and did some prep work to make assembly of the recipes easier. I started with the green drink the following morning. Now, I wrote the recipe down wrong and accidentally put blueberries in instead of pineapple which made it look like this…

not green drink.

not green drink.

Into the Vitamix!

Into the Vitamix!

All the ingredients for my Green Drink!

All the ingredients for my Green Drink! (except pineapple…not blueberries.)

This drink is really not that bad!! I did add the honey though to sweeten it up a tiny bit. I put too much ginger in it so it had a little kick to it that I wasn’t prepared for. Jen eats/drinks this for breakfast every single day.

I chose between either the smoothie or the hemp seeds for lunch each day. I was definitely hesitant to try this, but I was incredibly surprised to find that it is actually really, really delicious!!  You get the Hemp seeds and Chia seeds from the grain bins at Whole Foods. You serve yourself and can take as much or as little as you’d like!

Serve yourself!

Serve yourself!

I tried the salad for dinner, but found myself starving so I added raw almonds or almond butter in as a snack. Justin’s makes these little almond butter packets that make the perfect snack to carry in your purse.


I have also discovered that my new favorite mid day small meal or snack is an avocado. I cut it in half and eat it with a spoon, like it’s green yogurt.

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Now I ate most of these things every day, but I needed a change of pace. Over the weekend I spent time at my best friend Abby’s and didn’t have time to put together a clean meal. I did, however, try to pick a healthier option for dinner than usual. We had Jimmy John’s Unwiches (a sandwich wrapped in iceberg lettuce as opposed to bread) and while I know the deli meat probably isn’t anywhere close to clean, it was better than like pizza or something. I realized that this challenge forced me to really think about the kinds of foods I’m ingesting and what kind of effects they’re really having on my body.

On Sunday, I visited the farmers market for some fresh, handmade pasta. Jen said this is ok to eat so I jumped on the opportunity! They have all different kinds, but I got basil and whole wheat. I paired this with some homemade cilantro lime pesto and cilantro lime shrimp. is the website for the company that makes the pasta!

Cilantro-Lime Pesto: 

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, trimmed stems/roots
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more if it’s too thick)
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Combine in Vitamix and blend!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp:

  • 1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • olive oil

Sautee the garlic in the pan, then add shrimp, when it’s almost pink add crushed red pepper, black pepper and cumin, stir til fully cooked. Add cilantro, lime juice and chopped tomatoes.

I put the pesto on the pasta and the shrimp on top of that! SOOO delicious.

Lime Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Pasta

Lime Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Pasta

Pesto in the Vitamix!!

Pesto in the Vitamix!!

I also acquired a new temporary roommate this weekend! A coworker of my friends Braden and Sofocles just got transferred from Gillette in Boston to P&G in Cincinnati.  Her apartment isn’t ready for another month, but her job started this Monday! I had an unoccupied guest room and she had no where to live so Braden put us in touch with one another and she’ll be living with me for a month! Her name is Beryl and she’s super sweet! I wanted to give her a little welcome dinner, my best friend Courtney was in town and I got tired of eating clean alone so I had some of the girls come over for a lovely meal! I also wanted to use my new grill! I put together a completely organic menu.

We had grilled marinated locally raised flank steak, tricolor roasted potatoes, quinoa and heirloom tomato salad and balsamic glazed grilled asparagus. The marinade requires raspberry vinaigrette and I usually use store-bought but this time I made it from scratch. It looked like pink runny sorbet because of the raspberries. This makes me wonder what’s in the stuff I usually buy that has a more clear consistency. I also made the balsamic glaze reduction with local honey and organic balsamic vinegar. Delicious!! Jenna and I have decided this will be a more frequent thing since I love to cook so much!

Grilled marinated locally raised flank steak, tricolor roasted potatoes, quinoa and heirloom tomato salad and balsamic glazed grilled asparagus

Grilled marinated locally raised flank steak, tricolor roasted potatoes, quinoa and heirloom tomato salad and balsamic glazed grilled asparagus

This made for great leftovers, as well! I started sprint training with Megan’s husband, Drew, last night and the asparagus and a couple of slices of flank steak made for the perfect post-workout dinner.

After it’s all said and done, I fully intend on continuing to eat clean. It’s actually really easy. With a few exceptions, I discovered that I generally prepare clean meals without even knowing it. The smoothie is delicious and kind of reminds me of blueberry pancakes! The green drink is not delicious, but it keeps me full for HOURS.

I lost 6 pounds in 1 week! I’m sure it’s all water weight, but still!! I have so much energy, my body feels better and my skin is softer!  I have no plans to become a vegetarian, but I will definitely be limiting the amount of meat I am eating.

Next up on the menu…I’m making my own almond milk!!! I told Jen and she said “Who are you!? What have I created?!”

I’ll let you know how it tastes!!

Interested in trying your own clean-eating challenge? Check out these sites for more tips:


Feeling Pinspired!

I like to make stuff. Like REALLY like to make stuff. I’ve always been pretty creative. Growing up, my brother and sister were the athletes of the family and, while I played lots of sports, I would never call them my forte. This week’s challenge wasn’t really that difficult for me because it really is something that I love to do.

That being said, I also have a bad habit of starting projects and not finishing them. If I can’t figure out how to fix something that didn’t turn out as planned, it ends up on a shelf in my garage that I’ve come to call the Shelf of forgotten DIYs. It’s getting sort of full.

Challenge #11:

“Use your design skills and incredibly good taste to create/make something for Belle.” – from Bob and Joan Arlinghaus.

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Bob and Joan are practically members of the Hayden family. I often joke that our lives would fall apart without them, though I’m fairly certain it is no joke. Thanks so much for supporting me and giving me an opportunity to show off my skills.

As Joan mentioned, I have utilized my creativity to plan various parties and fundraisers for many of the nonprofits I volunteer with. I LOVE creating the theme and overall atmosphere of an event from beginning to end, focusing on every last detail. I do this because I love it and because I care about the organizations they benefit.

I also get a kick out of planning events for friends and family. I just threw a beach-themed wedding shower for my friend Stacey a few weeks ago. I couldn’t find anything that I liked at the stores so I ended up just making my own table runners and centerpieces. I got the idea from my friend Megan when we threw a Bow Tie Brunch baby shower for our friend Ashlee a few months ago! So genius! Give me a good theme and I’ll run with it!

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We spent last weekend in Minneapolis celebrating my niece Belle’s baptism and first birthday! I became a godmother and am thrilled about the honor my brother and sister-in-law have bestowed upon me. Naturally, I love making things for this adorable little angel so I am super psyched about this task. Becky did SUCH a great job putting together this adorable ballerina-themed birthday party! Everything was perfect from Belle’s little outfit to the ballet slippers holding flowers on the backs of the chairs. Brilliant!!

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With the birthday spirit in mind, I took to Pinterest to start finding my “pinspiration.” I came across this idea for a 20 questions book. You ask the child the same 20 questions every year on their birthday until they turn 18. You keep track of their answers in a book so that they can see how they have grown and changed over the years. I decided this would be a great keepsake for Belle to have.

I gathered my supplies and got to work! I’m beginning to think I should get frequent shoppers cards at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Scraps, Etc. for all of the things I’ve been making! I learned about a new store in Deerfield called Archivers, which I will definitely be returning to. If you like to make scrapbooks or keepsake memory things, this is your spot. They literally have EVERYTHING.


Since I have 18 years to cover, I picked out a different sheet of girlie paper to paste photos on and a coordinating solid to print the questions on. I also got different decorative stickers and accents to include so that each year when John, Becky and Belle answer the questions, they can decorate the pages together.

I attempted to print the questions on the card stock at home, but have found that my printer is not ideal for these kinds of projects. Off to Kinkos to quickly print what I needed. Their laser jet copiers have seriously saved me more times than I can count.


Here are the 20 questions I selected:

1. What is your favorite color?

2. What is your favorite toy?

3. What is your favorite fruit?

4. What is your favorite TV show?

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

6. What is your favorite outfit?

7. What is your favorite game?

8. What is your favorite snack?

9. What is your favorite animal?

10. What is your favorite song?

11. What is your favorite book?

12. Who is your best friend?

13. What is your favorite cereal?

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?

15. What is your favorite vacation?

16. What is your favorite holiday?

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

18. What is your favorite movie?

19. What do you like to learn about?

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Obviously, Belle cannot answer her questions this year because at the moment all she can say is Mama and Da and Dada. But it’s so darn cute when she tries!! I called Becky to fill in what I didn’t already know.

Here are the answers:


Here are some other pictures of the book:

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It’s a little stuffed right now, so for storage purposes, Becky might want to take all the extra details out until they’re needed. As Belle gets older, it could be fun for her to decorate it herself, as well. I tried to pick age appropriate paper for the teenage years.


Making this book inspired me to finish something I started creating for Belle’s nursery as a Christmas present. It didn’t go exactly as planned so I kinda gave up. Re-inspired, I gave it another go.

This was also a pinterest-inspired project. I took a map and mod-podged it to a piece of canvas. After that, I took some vinyl letters and stuck them to the map then painted over them. I was very careful to make sure both Minneapolis and Cincinnati would be visible through the letter outlines, as those are the places her parents are from.


Unfortunately, the canvas started to dry out, as did the paint and the edges of the map started to show. Also, it was crooked. My friend Abby tells me to measure things when I make stuff. This is why. I decided to trim it down, have it mounted and framed so that it would look better when hung in the nursery. I picked it up from the frame store and could not be happier with how it turned out!!


It’s finally done, only 6 months later.

Next up is to complete the paper-to-wood block photo transfers I was working on. This was another attempted project around the holidays that I was going to complete and give to my family members. Unfortunately, I wasted 16 blocks of wood, a whole bottle of Mod Podge and countless sheets of printer paper. Turns out you need a laser jet printer (not an ink jet) for this to work. Insert Kinkos saves the day, yet again. After figuring this out I cleared off part of my Shelf of Forgotten DIY’s by using the glue-soaked failed attempts as firewood for the bonfire at my birthday party. Mod Podge is EXTREMELY flammable so we had a roaring blaze in my backyard. I finally figured out how to do it and successfully made 2 for Stacey’s wedding shower. Family, your photo blocks shall be to you shortly!


Just for kicks, here are some other things I’ve made:

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Bob and Joan, thanks for tapping into my creative side! I cannot wait to see how Belle grows as she answers these questions over the years. I think it could be a wonderful tradition to start and am so curious to see what her answers are when she can respond on her own. I hope she doesn’t develop a hatred for the color pink because it is ALL over this book.